Tuesday, September 08, 2009

(Video) Stephen Harper's undemocratic coalition

The Harper reformatories seem to think ghosts of coalitions past will be a major issue in this election. I'm sure they don't mean their own Entente cordiale with the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP, do they?

Yes, that's right. Back in 2004 when Paul Martin was Prime Minister, then opposition leader Stephen Harper got together with Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe. They wrote a letter to the Governor General, Adrienne Clarkson, asking her that if the Martin government should fall on a confidence vote please don't give him an election. No, no. Instead, turn the reigns of government over to the Conservatives, who are confident they can govern with the support of the NDP and the BQ.

Here's the letter that Harper signed with Duceppe and Layton or, as he prefers to call them now, the "separatists and the socialists" where he asks the GG to turn to him after a confidence vote, an action that he and his party would later liken to a "coup."

September 9, 2004

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson,
C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.
Governor General
Rideau Hall
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A1

Excellency,

As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the Liberal minority government, you could be asked by the Prime Minister to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government's program.

We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice
has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority.

Your attention to this matter is appreciated.

Sincerely,

Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada

Gilles Duceppe, M.P.
Leader of the Bloc Quebecois

Jack Layton, M.P.
Leader of the New Democratic Party

I guess coalitions are only undemocratic if they don't involve Stephen Harper. But then, Harper has flip-flopped on every position he has ever held in the name of political expediency, so what else is new?

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11 comments:

ALW said...

"Reformatories" - Really, Jeff? I mean, really? You may recall how ineffective and stupid the "Lieberal" meme was? Well Reformatories is about on the same level. (Just because Warren Kinsella does it doesn't mean it's a good idea)

As for undemocratic coalitions, hey, if you want to spend lots of time reminding folks about various permutations of them throughout recent history, please do!!!

Rick Barnes said...

Harper of course knows the public have a short memory. The coalition discussion then was no different than the discussions with the Liberals, Bloc and NDP in December of 2008

Jeff Jedras said...

Really Aaron, the day I take advice on stupid names from a Blogging Tory is the day when, I don't know, I'm drawing a blank here. It's the day when something very unlikely happens, is the point.

As for the second point, hey, I'm perfectly happy to have a debate on public policy and vision for the country. But if the Conservatives are determined to run on the coalition bogeyman, and by all evidence they are, don't think I'm not going to point out the sheer harpocracy of it.

I'll now pause so you can kvetch about my use of the word harpocracy.

MichaelB said...

The Cons reliance on short vote attention span is all part of the same mentality that vilifies education, culture, etc. as somehow out of touch with the common man.

My dad the cop wanted nothing more than for the next generation to do better, learn more, advance themselves.

Makes me want to be even more of an intellectual snob!

Loraine Lamontagne said...

I disagree with Rick Barnes. The discussion between Harper, Duceppe and Layton was different in that it occurred immediately following an election. Their letter was dated August, nearly two months before parliament convened and the first throne speech of the Martin minority government was read in October. The election was in June.

Dion, Duceppe and Layton voted on the first throne speech of this government. Their coalition talk, at least as far as we know, was the result of the conservatives' economic statement.

In other words, the Dion coalition attempt was the direct result, and in defiance, of government actions.

CanadianSense said...

Jeff are you suggesting the opposition were interested in avoiding an election and forming a coalition?

If they did, I would as a Canadian voter be upset and would have not voted for any party in that "coalition".

I think it is wrong to deny a coalition of smaller parties.

In Western Democracies most coalitions exist with the major party working with a smaller party.

Can you list me of example of smaller parties denying a coalition and forming one against the party with the largest seats six weeks after a General Election.

At the time of the "faux" crisis I was unable to find a similar example.

MichaelB said...

Have you seen the comment in today's Globe by Tom Flanagan re: attacking the coalition idea (true or not)?

Can you get that letter you've posted to the right people?

MichaelB said...

For that matter, why not post it as a comment right on the G&M site?

Gayle said...

"Can you list me of example of smaller parties denying a coalition and forming one against the party with the largest seats six weeks after a General Election."

Why is this relevant? Does it change the rules of parliamentary democracy when the coalition forms 6 weeks after an election?

In any event, I would point out that in the famous King Byng affair, King did not even wait 5 weeks. He decided he would continue to govern with the support of the Progressives, despite the fact the conservatives won more seats.

Rick Barnes said...

I disagree with Rick Barnes. The discussion between Harper, Duceppe and Layton was different in that it occurred immediately following an election. Their letter was dated August, nearly two months before parliament convened and the first throne speech of the Martin minority government was read in October. The election was in June.

I think you are arguing semantics. Bob Rae (then NDP leader) and David Peterson (Liberal Leader) formed an agreement prior to the house convening in Ontario.

The time frames were not long in all three cases. There was nothing undemocratic in any of them. We do not elect PM's or Premiers. We elect MP's. The MP's decide who will lead a government and if that Government has the confidence of the house.

As a matter of course the person who was the PM or Premier remains until there is evidence there is no confidence in them. That evidence can be displayed as with Bob Rae and David Peterson prior to convening the house or after in a non confidence motion as could have happened with the LPC and NDP coalition with support of the Bloc.

The GG of course may do as they will.

Jeff Jedras said...

CS,

I'm sorry, I don't quite follow what you're asking.

Michael,

I did see the Flanagan story, and i think a few people posted the letter in the comments there.